Judas Son of Simon

Judas Son of Simon ISBN: 9780997041743, Moriah Books, a novel by Daniel Molyneux.

Plot: Judas, the son-in-law of an Israeli (Sadducee) High Priest, is persuaded to follow a purportedly new Messiah who is gathering large crowds that possibly may lead to unrest among the populace. Such unrest could lead the ruling Romans to unleash their Legions with devastating results. He finds John the Baptist, a teacher who states he is not the one for whom he is looking but introduces him to Jesus, the Son of God and the true Messiah. Judas follows Jesus in his extensive travels through the various regions and gradually becomes converted although still reporting back to his father-in-law. As time progresses, Jesus acquires a total of twelve disciples and gathers huge crowds, while repeatedly performing miracles. The Priests become worried knowing that the Roman tolerance of activity that might lead to sedition and riots will extend only to a certain level. Disagreement also begins to occur within the ranks of the disciples who, still unable to divest themselves of earthly kingdom thinking, discuss and ‘jockey for position’ of who will occupy the most prominent positions in the newly proposed Kingdom of God. Finally, as a result of Judas’ dichotomous thoughts, Jesus is captured, brought before the Sanhedrin which consisted of the total Judea council. They, subject to Roman Law and concerned that Rome might interpret leniency as a threat to Rome’s authority, engineer a sentencing procedure that make the Israelis the ‘death demanders’, allowing Pilot to ‘wash his hands’ of the matter and bow to the will of the people.

Discussion: This book declares that it is a “work of fiction and any reference to historical events, real people, or real places are used factiously ….” and the same with character names, places, etc. Since the protagonist is Judas, a disciple of Jesus who simultaneously is a ‘double agent’ by being in the employ of his High Priest father-in-law, and “All biblical quotations translated and/or paraphrased by author” such a declaration must be acceptable. However, the presentation of the extensive travels and events participated in by Jesus and his followers, and the miracles repeatedly performed by this Messiah certainly follow scripture and the endless teachings of its ministers. More importantly perhaps, is the other volume of less widely disseminated material the author has set forth with regard to such matters as the early history of the “Lost Tribes of Israel”, replacement of Moloch and the Canaanite murderous and degrading activities with Greco-Roman deities and similar sexual and other practices – a slight difference allows it perhaps to be somewhat advanced because they did not require sacrifice of human life. Also, presented is the mater of Rome’s ultimate restoration of peace to the long-standing war over trade routes among the empires of Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia and Greece and the gains resulting to the Israelis who were allowed a considerable amount of freedom, as long as there were no resulting concerns about Roman supremacy. Additionally fascinatingly interesting, is the diversity of Jesus’ disciples at a time when individual animosity was so rife among the different groups. The disciples included businessmen, a highly unpopular tax collector, four fishermen, eleven Galileans, a Judean (Judas) who also was a Sadducee and Galilean. The others were raised in a Pharisee understanding of the law. Jesus was of Essene background. Simon was a Zealot. So this again was a most impossible seeming group – Sadducee, Pharisee, Essene, Hellenist, Judean, Galilean and a tax collector. The author has provided extensive and extremely helpful footnotes for each chapter and three notable appendices.

Conclusion: A novel providing captivating conjecture/fact about the inception of Christianity.

5* Captivating conjecture/fact about the inception of Christianity.

The Siege

The Siege ISBN: 9781937818005, Sand Hill Review Press, a Psychological Thriller in e-book by James Hanna.

Plot: Tom Hemmings was the middle-age son of a former State Department Employee whose early life was spent abroad. He had been one of the ‘rebels without a cause’ developing during the ‘60’s – a ‘Hippie’, war resister living in Australia, ex-short-term felon, two years army service as atonement, following which he had acquired a Bachelor and Master Degree (Criminology) through the G-I Bill. Presently he is a twenty year prison employee (Dormitory Counselor) in the 86-year-old medium security Indiana Penal Farm that produces furniture and brooms for state-wide consumption. It sits in 20,000 acres of farmland with an adjacent town peopled by prison employees, their families and those servicing the town’s requirements. Unrest gradually builds within the prison population until the inmates riot. Ostensibly, one of the prominent reasons is because the Colonial Concessions Company, the multi-state Commissary from which the inmates purchase their personal supplies, provides substandard items at greatly inflated prices, but even worse, does not do so in a timely fashion. This trivial sounding action is highly inflammatory because the inmates cannot pay their internal gambling debts causing animosity with deadly results. The story gradually evolves as Tom, the designated intermediary, must play a huge and dangerous game in the ensuing devastating action. Additional important protagonists are: Chester Mahoney, Tom’s most reliable ‘snitch’ (informer), who is a child molester and former lay minister with a gifted tongue acting somewhat as “…leader of an insurgent nation.” Henry Yoakum, a war veteran, petty grafter and black marketer who is a prison guard and Tom’s ‘roadie’ (back-up on patrol). Captain Hawkins, a fat, ‘Charlie Chaplin like’ excitable emergency squad commander. The entire situation is exacerbated by the distrust, deceit, deception and politically over reactive situation that exists among the prison personnel as well as among the prison inmates. The prisoners are split into warring gangs including Muslims, Nation of Islam (largely blacks associated with the religion), Aryan Brotherhood (white supremacists), Devils Disciples (drug dealing, violence) and some professing American Gospel Party affiliation (pseudo-religious organization advocating racial separation and maintaining governmental distrust). The prison officials and guards are seriously split among the politically warring unions represented by highly contentious individual members of the United Auto Workers, Teamster International Brotherhood, both having a number of former auto plant employees who had lost their jobs, and the AFSMCE (American Federation of State, Municipal and County Employees). The resulting action is vicious and the ensuing results are as one might expect considering the psychological components of the characters involved.

Discussion: The author has set forth an intriguing and thought producing story about a modern penal institution and the individuals involved. The inmates and their ‘causes’, petty and otherwise; their ‘keepers’ with their myriad ‘hang-ups’; the interrelationships between the two factions all are boldly set forth. Tom, true to his youthful thoughts/beliefs/activity, continues drifting through life taking the path of least resistance. He lives in a trailer, goes hunting/fishing at will, finds companionship and/or sex at the most convenient bar when moved to do so, and never gives a thought to ‘living up to his potential’. His thoughts still reflect much of those of his youth: “Tom Hemmings did not feel alarmed when the riot finally began, not even after the laundry dorm – the dormitory he was assigned to – had been taken over by the inmates. He instead felt a sense of vindication, a sentiment reminiscent of the antiwar marches of the sixties, but he knew his nostalgia was presumptuous since it was difficult to determine the purpose of the uprising.” And the supporting characters of this boy/man equally are exposed in their often pathetic ambiguity. This is a story presented by an author who apparently has closely witnessed these individuals functioning in their seemingly hopeless ‘bottom-of-the-world’ position and has fictionalized them at their worst. A glossary of ‘slang’ used is provided at the book’s end and may be helpful if perused before beginning to read the text.

Summary: A most interesting novel about people involved in a way of life far removed from that encountered by the usual individual.

4* Most interesting story of people seldom encountered in one’s lifetime.